Based on the previous online press briefing by our Department of Education Secretary Leonor Magtolis-Briones, we may come to understand deeply the alternative ways of education, crafted specially to meet and maximize the needs and resources of students and teachers.
First, let us study the term Face to face classes – the term that every parent fear.
We are used to students and teachers going to school physically. But at this point in time, wherein a high risk of exposure for COVID-19 starts with crowded places, going to school physically is impossible. So, don’t worry. It is mentioned clearly that there will be NO FACE TO FACE CLASSES AND SESSION until we are assured of the safety of our children and teachers which is meant for when an effective vaccine guarantees safety in the country.
DepEd fully and completely support the stand that our children should not be exposed to the dangers of COVID-19 physically. In addressing this conflict, Briones explains how we can provide learning opportunities to our students without necessarily requiring them to go to school.
In this sense, we are to describe blended learning and distant learning.
Distant learning as defined by Brittanica.com is also called distance education, e-learning, and online learning, a form of education in which the main elements include physical separation of teachers and students during instruction and the use of various technologies to facilitate student-teacher and student-student communication.
Though most of us find it odd to have this kind of education, Briones bounces back saying “This is not a new thing; we have many universities and schools which offer distant learning in many ways. We now call it blended learning because various approaches which are adjusted to the actual situation of the communities will be applied.”
Moving on through the definitions, the main question asked by many was the preparation that educators are facing, to shift and reframe the curriculum that would best fit in the new normal of education.
Here’s how our DepEd secretary responded:
“What we are trying to do, (and not really new, hindi naman ito bagong imbento.) Because many universities already have distance education programs, many local governments have radio stations, we are using utilizing existing ways of communication without requiring our children to go to school. So, they can still study, teachers can monitor them as well as their parents.”
The next question that will pop out of our heads would be how would we make this plan possible? Let us study these approaches to blended learning modalities by knowing the mediums of communication that DepEd will maximize for the learners and educators.
- Printed Materials/ Printed Modules
For those who don’t have connections/ interactive facilities, there will be what we described as printed material which will be delivered to the homes of the students through their baranggays, which can be picked up by their parents of designated places with their coordinated schedules. DepEd would be coordinating closely with the baranggays and the local governments.
2. Online learning platform:
In DepEd, we have what is described as DepEd Commons. Right now, we have already over 7 million subscribers wherein lessons, homework, quizzes, are fits to learners and teachers, accessible even to the parents. Instances may arise for working parents even abroad who still want to monitor their child’s progress. Parents may simply go to the DepEd commons and check on how their children are doing.
Having 7 million subscribers in DepEd Commons, we assume that subscribers have access to the internet. One worry is how about the students and the teachers that do not have access to laptops? A survey was conducted which assumes the result of nearly 700,000 (more than 80% of the population) has a laptop/desktop at home. Teachers acquire these gadgets for various uses. A very popular mechanism for dispensing education.
3. Classic long-time approaches: Radio and TV Broadcast
In cases where there is no connectivity and printed materials may not be available immediately, we have the classic long-time approaches which always been used in education — television. Those homes which do not necessarily have connectivity may have television.
As planned on the proposal, 15% of television time should be dedicated to educational program design for children. There are already existing educational programs on television stations, what is needed to do is to utilize these programs to transmit our curriculum. DepEd is working out on how to do this. PCOO is volunteering its tv facilities and also IBC13 which is radio for the utilization of lessons, a possible and realistic way to supply education for those who don’t have access to computers.
4. Radio-based instruction
Briones mentioned that the most and the best-used approach of course is radio-based instruction. Television existed in the late 1950s-60s, radios have been around since the 1800 and are first invented. We know that those technologies are widely used before and not necessarily computers and so on.
Municipalities are volunteering for their radio stations. Usually, municipalities, cities, local, and even big networks have radio stations. Many of them have lessons which are called “schools of the air”. (Even religious groups which give lessons on agriculture and sciences have radio stations). It is an ancient alternative way of teaching.
Approving the proposal, even our President Rodrigo Duterte praised the effort that the Department of Education is determinedly working on. “We have to forego many things along the way because of what happened. But, education, I think, if it is compromised, it should be negligible, so it should go on. Because the future of this country depends on how we educate our young people nowadays... I agree with you with this program, I support you.”
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